Tanked! Revaluing Feral Combat Talents in Beta Build 8926

Posted in Feral, WotLK on Sep 12, 2008

As it seems that nearly everyone I know has now received a beta key after the last wave of invitations, it only seems appropriate that I readdress Feral Combat talents in WotLK. After teleporting back and forth from Valiance Keep to Moonglade, I’ve finally settled on a build that I feel provides the most security and the best opportunity for bear threat generation—at least, for now.

I’m still a little confused as to where the real differentiation between bears and cats lies; while there are talents geared specifically for tanks (Natural Reaction, Protector of the Pack, etc.), there still aren’t any new talents for cats. King of the Jungle? Maybe, because I’d argue that the bonus use effect of Tiger’s Fury is much more useful than bonus use effect of Enrage. Rend and Tear superficially looks like a talent geared more toward cats, but since when has Ferocious Bite been useful for anything beyond leveling?

As such, I feel that you can currently utilize one build for tanking and moderate DPSing. The pictured talent build is essentially what I’d like to be using at 80. All PH NYI (place holder, not yet implemented) talents are now “live” on beta, and it’s pertinent to note that the talent “Mother Bear” has been renamed to the slightly less Disney “Protector of the Pack”. Talent choices that I felt warranted a discussion or at least mentions have been highlighted in red squares. Moving from top to bottom, left to right:

I’m still amazed that this talent is lurking in the Restoration tree. While many talent choices in the Feral Combat tree augment specific feral abilities under certain circumstances, Naturalist simply boosts damage by 10% in all forms—no strings attached. More damage landing means threat generated by your bear, and you have the added (albeit largely unnecessary) bonus of a talented-down Healing Touch. Jawesome.

Shredding Attacks
Note that I left this staple talent out in the final round. This is a key talent that I’d make a point in taking if I was planning solely on DPSing, and even though it also reduces the Rage cost of Lacerate, I have thus far never found myself in a Rage-starved-situation where I ended up wishing I’d taken it. I would much rather drop two points into Savage Fury and guarantee myself an additional 20% damage caused by our two largest threat multipliers, Maul and Mangle (in Bear).

Protector of the Pack
I’d like to reiterate that the old placeholder talent “Mother Bear” has been renamed to “Protector of the Pack”. While I’m still not thrilled at the damage reduction based on party members, you can’t dispute that a 12-15% overall damage reduction is a huge boon to Bear’s who normally have no way to mitigate spell damage, and who will, in the expansion, have far less armor than we’re used to. Couple the 12-15% damage reduction with a 60% Dire Bear damage increase, and you has absolutely no excuse to not take this talent.

Predatory Instincts & Rend and Tear
I originally wasn’t sure if the 10% base Maul damage bonus from Rend and Tear would win out over a 10% base damage bonus from all critical strikes. I realize at first glance that it seems like common sense: yes, having a critical strike damage multiplier for all attacks is fabulous and much better than augmenting one ability (as with Rend and Tear). The idea, however, was that the bonus from Predatory Instincts relied on a Critical Strike occurring, and that Rend and Tear’s additional 10% damage added to Maul (on bleeding targets) was a constant. In Beta, Maul really is where we start seeing some huge numbers and it plays a far more integral role in a normal tanking rotation than it used to. For now, however, I’m sticking to Predatory Instincts and also finding comfort in the 15% chance to avoid area effects.

Infected Wounds
I wasn’t initially sold on this talent. There was a lot of speculation regarding whether or not it would actually affect boss level mobs, but in lower level instances at the very least, it certainly applies. This talent is great. Your mainstays of Maul and Mangle can apply this debuff in stacks of two, reducing the target’s movement speed by 25% and attack speed by 10%. Sure, it only lasts for 12 seconds, but if you’re constantly reapplying Mangle and Maul, it never drops off. Compare this to a Warrior’s Thunder Clap at Level 80:

“Blasts nearby enemies increasing the time between their attacks by 10% for 30 sec. and doing 300 damage to them. Damage increased by attack power. This ability causes additional threat and will affect multiple targets.”

Although taking 3/3 Improved Thunder Clap blows IW out of the metaphorical water, Bears have essentially been provided with a single target Thunder Clap coupled with a Hamstring ability, something we never had before.

Everything else is a no-brainer. Berserk is especially awesome (when you remember that you have it), Feral Aggression is still mostly unnecessary, and we’ve also been granted the ability to use any item, potion, or stone while in any shapeshifted form. Things are almost looking up, but with Paladin and Warrior Protection trees growing increasingly more solid, it’s tempting to make the switch.

If you have any questions or just want to discuss what’s up, feel free to contact me.


  • At 2008.09.12 13:24, Faerun said:

    I think you’ve totally gimped your DPS by not taking shredding attacks. With it you can shred at 42 energy, without it you have to wait for 60. 60 energy is for a bread-and-butter ability just seems insane. I just don’t think you’ll be doing any dps this way. Those two points are the most important talents points for any kitty (mangle might be better, although mangle is 8% of my dps and shred is 38%).

    It does look like a nice bear build though.

    • At 2008.09.12 13:27, Runycat said:

      I stated pretty clearly that this was primarily a tanking build that would allow for moderate DPS when necessary, and mentioned that if I was planning on seriously DPSing, I’d be picking up Shredding Attacks. So yes, you’re right.

      This is a key talent that I’d make a point in taking if I was planning solely on DPSing.

      • At 2008.09.12 14:08, Faerun said:

        Sorry, when you said moderate DPS I thought you meant dps about the same level kitties dps now (60-70% of pure classes).

        My bad, still good bear build :)

        • At 2008.09.13 02:36, Runycat said:

          It’s all good. I’m still waiting to see if we’ll get those talents that they’ve been promising us to make the Feral Combat tree even more bloated.

    • At 2008.09.12 13:35, Bellwether said:

      I has no beta key ;P

      Then again, they probably know I’d try to sell it for some grocery money…yay poor college studentness.

      • At 2008.09.12 13:36, Runycat said:

        I think they took most of the beta keys off eBay. D:

        Did you actually want one?

      • At 2008.09.12 14:22, Jezzabell said:

        Well, I am killing some insomnia time with drood wotlk info– I know, I am pathetic. >_< But I am reading your blog, be thankful! lol

        Even though I am primary a tree, I’d actually go for Intensity instead of King of the Jungle. With all the other extra damage talents and the once-per-fight cooldown on Enrage, I’d feel more secure with having an opening maul+mangle combo at ready for small pulls or a Swipe and some Lacerate in me for multi-pulls. Or are my tanking techniques just plain wrong? O.o

        • At 2008.09.12 15:21, Kal said:

          Or are my tanking techniques just plain wrong? O.o it’s not wrong, but it’s not optimal. Having 10 rage at the beginning is nice but not necessary, and as long as your DPS isn’t completely insane it’s really not that required. One enrage is more than enough to establish anti-healer aggro, especially with KotJ adding another 15% boost to it. And having a 15% boost to your damage every minute if you choose helps a lot when having to put out max threat, and the armor reduction helps with getting rage if you need it. Just make sure to let your healers know. :)

        • At 2008.09.12 15:23, Kal said:

          Yep, that’s what I came to too. The only quibble is predatory strikes vs. shredding attacks. I really can’t give up the shred. Predatory strikes is obviously better for a bear, but I don’t think I can deal with not being able to reasonably do damage as a cat.

          • At 2008.09.15 04:32, Runycat said:

            I don’t really disagree, to be honest. It’s easy enough to move a few points from Predatory Strikes.

          • At 2008.09.13 02:46, elemmire said:

            My build personally for Wotl tanking only:

            some notes about my build:

            Primal Precision (2/2)
            Expertise is the new everything, it rocks period.

            Improved Mangle (0/3)
            Extra -1.5 sec CD on bear mangle doesn’t seem to do much either, as long as the bleed effect is there for lacerate to generate more threat its good. Furthermore, maul > mangle, spammed for real TPS.

            Primal Tenacity (3/3)
            Love this talent because it covers both just tank being stunned and entire raid/party stunned in one. 30% less duration of stun effects is huge. Assuming you get stunned and your dps doesn’t, this could really be a breaking point in terms of holding agro. In the cases where entire raid/party is stunned meaning healers too, you taking 30% less damage is also the turning point of life and death.

            • At 2008.09.15 04:58, Runycat said:

              I agree about Primal Precision; I picked that up too. I think we’ll have to agree to disagree about Improved Mangle v. Primal Tenacity. While Primal Tenacity is a great talent, it’s highly situational whereas Imp. Mangle is a direct TPS increase. Maul is certainly one of our biggest threat multipliers right now, but it’s not like Mangle got shoved in a closet. As a Cat, I’d likely be applying Mangle for debuff purposes only; as a Bear, any time you have the Rage to hit it, hit it. Mangle still does a stupid amount of damage (especially if you’re taking advantage of the T6 set bonus as well).

              If I was going to take 3 points from anywhere to stick in Primal Tenacity, I’d honestly drop them out of Infected Wounds. Why? If you have a Warrior in your raid group already, there’s no reason to have it (as TC is still far better).

            • At 2008.09.14 17:51, Charles said:

              I have a question regarding bear tank threat gen in this latest build. Was the 15% inc threat from Feral Instinct rolled into Dire Bear Form like they were talking about? Or did we lose that altogether?

              Also, if we did lose it, do the new talents increasing damage from mangle/maul etc. make up for the loss? Lacerate at level 80 seems to have scaled fairly well too.


              • At 2008.09.14 23:18, Kal said:

                Yep – all tanking classes got their improved threat rolled up into the base.

                • At 2008.09.15 04:31, Runycat said:

                  Additionally, you’ll probably see your Maul/Mangle damage double. It’s pretty neat, actually.

                  • At 2008.09.15 17:38, Charles said:

                    Thanks guys! I was finally able to copy my Druid over to the PTR’s and test it out. You weren’t kidding about Maul/Mangle either. That’s some pretty hefty dps! Looking forward to the tanking changes, esp having some other tanks around that can put out similar threat.

                  • At 2008.09.15 16:33, Urthona said:

                    Aw. I was fond of the name Mother Bear.

                    Quick question Runy! What’s the Def cap for TBC bears after 3.0 goes live? SotF goes to 6%, so 415 is presumedly reduced. Can’t find the number easily. You know?

                    • At 2008.09.15 16:45, Runycat said:

                      Our talents actually eliminate the need for DEF rating anymore. Grats!

                      • At 2008.09.15 16:51, Urthona said:

                        so i made my best friend a heavy clefthoof set for… no… reason…


                        • At 2008.09.15 16:58, Runycat said:

                          That set is also being re-itemized. In fact, almost all current items will be revalued if the news from the PTR is correct. I’m actually working on a write up for it now.

                          • At 2008.09.29 01:20, Liyana said:

                            If you finished that write-up pls do let me know. I’ve found this article very usefull as a person who loves being a tank. Although I got to admit I will miss the feeling of smoothness thats involved in soloing as it is now in TBC

                            • At 2008.09.29 05:13, Runycat said:

                              I did, actually, and it was posted awhile ago.

                              Check it out!

                  • [...] Tanked! Revaluing Feral Combat Talents in Beta Build 8926 from Unbearably HoT Runycat takes a look at the current must-have tanking talents in Wrath. [...]

                    • At 2008.09.22 00:48, Level 80 WoW Talents and Builds said:

                      [...] Tanked! Revaluing Feral Combat Talents in Beta Build 8926 – The pictured talent build is essentially what I’d like to be using at 80. All PH NYI (place holder, not yet implemented) talents are now “live” on beta, and it’s pertinent to note that the talent “Mother Bear” has been renamed to the … [...]

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